On Saturday, UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) hosted its annual “The Warm Up” concert, which provides students a few hours’ rest from the drinking and partying so many were doing during the concurrent “Deltopia.” Next to “Deltopia,” “The Warm Up” was the talk of the town in the days leading up to it. Even my geography professor polled my class to see who was going. This year, it featured two popular artists with several million monthly Spotify listeners each and a guest D.J. Despite this, the crowd was not huge and students were still buying tickets as the show was going on.
Though the Thunderdome floor had plenty of open space unoccupied by students, the crowd was tightly packed. On a side note, the university-implemented mask mandate was clearly for appearances only. Everyone was sweating profusely and rubbing up against each other as they jumped to the music and tried to get close to the stage. A majority of people took off their masks once they were in the crowd and security only attempted to enforce the mandate on those going to step outside or getting a drink of water in between enjoying the music. This all made the regulation a bit perplexing, but the occasional silly rule from the university will never ruin the day of a UCSB student.
The opening act, D.J. SKR, had a few fun highlights. SKR checked most of the boxes that one would expect from a college D.J. in 2022: he played brief snippets of Ye’s “All of the Lights,” “Mo Bamba” by Sheck Wes, Jay-Z and Ye’s song about Paris, and Drake’s verse from the now timeless classic “Sicko Mode.” Surprising the audience, he spun the decade-old internet sensation “Sandstorm” by Darude as the backing track for the vocals of another song. It was weird, but it got the crowd jumping.
Though SKR is a skilled D.J., he struggled to keep the crowd engaged for the hour-plus length performance. The lights and smoke effects from the stage were the rave-like kind that put the crowd in a trance, but by the end, the audience seemed to collectively experience the common rave sensation, “what am I doing here?” In other words, the audience felt ready for Pi’erre to come out by the end of D.J. SKR’s set.
It was unclear whether it was a technical issue or Pi’erre’s own tardiness, but the wait for him was surprisingly long. The room was excited to see Pi’erre, and he looked excited to be there. He was smiling between all of his songs and loved walking around the stage and working to engage the crowd. He maintained a positive attitude and presence on stage for his hour-long performance and demonstrated impressive stamina.
However, the performance did not feel as “live” as one might hope it would. Pi’erre makes heavy use of autotune in all of his songs, so the crowd should expect some vocal processing. However, beyond the pitch-correction and effects, Pi’erre’s microphone was so compressed that his voice lacked any dynamics, making the performance sound pre-recorded and impersonal. Though he seemed excited to perform and rapped a few bangers that had the crowd jumping, the crowd again felt somewhat lost by the end of the set and the room felt ready for Flo Milli.
Sadly, the delay left little time for Milli’s performance; she was only able to perform about five songs by the time the venue was shut down. Though short, her performance was the most memorable. She brought such a bright, friendly confidence that it would be impossible not to enjoy her presence in the room. The whole room was happy to see her and her performance did not disappoint. It seemed that, as a 22-year-old who has only been a celebrity for two years, the marvel of being a star was not lost on her. At the same time, self-confidence is a huge part of her music and that attitude was as present in person as it is in her recordings.
One could not emphasize her swagger enough. The crowd was bouncing with every song. The room seemed to hold its breath as Milli rapped the long refrain to one of her songs acapella before the beat kicked in and she continued to flow. Her songs, like “Beef FloMix,” have an aggressive, up-in-your-face attitude, and her hand motions while rapping made it feel like she was delivering a killer blow in an argument. Her persona and attitude lend themselves perfectly to live performances. Even if the tickets didn’t sell out, Flo Milli made the $5 ticket cost feel like a steal.
Even if the first two acts felt a bit long, “Warm Up” ‘22 was a show worth seeing. Though whatever difficulties delayed Pi’erre’s performance were an embarrassment, both he and D.J. SKR displayed positive energy. Flo Milli’s show-stealing performance backs up her musical persona and gives her credit as someone who means what she says in her music. As was made clear by the concert, her confidence is well-deserved.